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      Dep. Foreign Minister: Peace Can't Cost Israel its Existence

      Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon: Israel wants peace, but we must be firm in our demands for security and recognition.
      By Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski
      First Publish: 2/2/2012, 7:16 AM

      Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said on Wednesday that Israel wants to achieve peace with its Arab neighbors, but stressed that peace cannot come at the price of Israel’s existence.

      Speaking with Arutz Sheva on the sidelines of the 12th Annual Herzliya Conference, Ayalon said, “We have to be very firm in our demands for our security, for recognition and we also need to see Palestinians giving up their senseless demands for preconditioned negotiations and all kinds of excuses.”

      He added that the Arab Spring has proven wrong the claim that the “Palestinian problem” is central to the stability and to the future of the Middle East.

      “The people in Cairo or in Damascus or in Bahrain or in Libya did not come out to the squares because of the Palestinians, but because of intrinsic problems that leaders here, very conveniently, put on the Palestinians,” said Ayalon.

      He said the conflict “has to be solved between Israel and the Palestinians without preconditions and without any intervention and interference from outside.

      Ayalon also addressed the strategic value of Israel to the United States and stressed that Israel is extremely important to the U.S.

      “To ask whether Israel is an asset or a liability is like asking, in 1939 or in 1941, whether the UK was an asset or a liability to the United States,” he said.

      “Israel and the United States not only share the same values but also the same interests,” Ayalon added. “The partnership between Israel and the United States is a very natural one. It will continue, for the benefit not only of the two peoples but also for the people of the region.”